If you have backyard grapes, you might be wondering what you can do with them besides make wine. Making grape jelly is a fun way to transform the summer sweetness of your grapes into a treat you can enjoy all year.
To make grape jelly the easiest way is to buy pectin, available in the baking section at the grocery store, and use the recipe on the box. Pectin is a starch that occurs naturally in fruits. When you heat it up with sugar it gels. Without pectin, your jam or jelly wouldn't solidify and you'd be left with a syrup.
The recipe on most pectin boxes is for concord grape jelly. You might be wondering if you can make grape jelly with your backyard white grapes, using the same recipe. The answer is yes, as long as they're a little sweet. If you don't have backyard grapes, store-bought red or green grapes would work just as well too. We used white Cayuga grapes and Sure-Jell Liquid Fruit Pectin.
The difference between liquid pectin and powdered pectin is the powder version has to dissolve in hot water. With the liquid, you can just add it to your grapes when they're cooked. If you have liquid pectin, great! It removes a step. If not, the powder version works too.
Grape Jelly with White Cayuga Grapes
Below is the process for making grape jelly with Sure-Jell CERTO Liquid Fruit Pectin. If you're using a different type of pectin, BE SURE to follow the recipe exactly on the box.
If you don't, you might end up with jelly that is more like syrup, or on the opposite end, is too hard.
First, wash the grapes in the sink and remove the stems. Don't worry about the seeds, those will be strained out later. Put the grapes in a bowl and weigh them after the stems have been removed. You'll need four pounds of grapes or about eight cups.
I recommend using four pounds so that you will be sure to have enough juice, even if the recipe calls for three pounds. It's better to have extra juice for the jelly recipe versus not enough!
Next is the fun part, crushing the grapes! Kids love to help with this part. You'll want to crush them up so there is a lot of liquid in the bowl. Once they're crushed, put them in a pot with half a cup of water. Bring to a boil and cover. Simmer on medium-low for 10 minutes.
Next, you'll put the juice through a cheesecloth to separate out the skins and seeds. Put the cheesecloth in the bottom of the bowl, pour the fruit in, and then tie the bag shut and hang it above the bowl. Rubber bands and a cabinet knob work great.
When it has cooled, squeeze out any remaining juice from the bag. You should have the exact amount of juice called for in the recipe. In this recipe, you need four cups of prepared juice. If you don't have enough, you can add up to half a cup of water to get to the right amount. Transfer the juice to a stockpot.
Next, use a dry measuring cup to measure the sugar into a dry bowl. It is CRITICAL that you use the exact amount of sugar called for in the recipe. Otherwise, you'll end up with a jam or jelly failure, and that is totally disappointing!
Add the sugar to the pot. Add 1/2 tsp. butter to reduce foaming. Bring to a full rolling boil (doesn't stop when stirred) and boil for one minute, stirring constantly.
This is another spot where you can go wrong. If you don't watch the pot carefully you might miss when the rolling boil starts.
After one minute, stir in the liquid pectin. Return to a full rolling boil and boil for one minute, stirring constantly.
Then, you'll ladle the jelly into your prepared jars. Wipe the jar rims and threads, and put on two-piece lids tightly. Place the jars in a hot water-bath canner. They will need to be covered by at least one inch of water. Bring to a boil and process once boiling begins for 10 minutes. Adjust processing time according to the directions for high altitude.
Remove and place on a towel. Leave the jars alone for at least 24 hours. You might be tempted to check if they firmed up properly right away, but the pectin in jelly can take up to 24 hours to set, so don't worry about it until the next day. If they didn't set by the next day, you can follow the instructions on the box for how to re-cook the jelly and try again. Or, just use it as syrup on your ice cream or pancakes.
Look at the beautiful color of this Cayuga grape jelly!
Cayuga Grape Jelly Recipe (canned)
4 lbs white grapes, like Cayuga (approx. 8 cups)
7 cups sugar
1 pouch liquid Sure-Jell CERTO pectin
1. Prepare lids and jars for water-bath canning.
2. Remove stems from the grapes and put them in a bowl. Weigh them to be sure you have four pounds.
3. Crush the grapes.
4. Transfer to a large pot and add half a cup of water. Boil for 10 minutes on medium-low.
5. Line a large bowl with several layers of cheesecloth. Pour the grapes into the bowl. Tie up the cheesecloth on a cabinet above the bowl with a rubber band to let the juice drain. When cooled, squeeze the cheesecloth to remove any remaining juice.
6. Measure exactly four cups of prepared juice. You can add up to half a cup of water to get to four cups.
7. Pour the juice into a large pot. Add seven cups of sugar. This must be exact for the jelly to set. You can pre-measure the sugar in a dry bowl to be sure it's accurate.
8. Add half a teaspoon of butter to prevent foaming.
9. Bring to a full rolling boil (still boils hard when stirred). Boil for exactly one minute, stirring constantly.
10. Stir in pectin quickly. Return to a full rolling boil. Boil for exactly one minute, stirring constantly.
11. Remove from heat. Ladle into prepared jars. Clean off rim and threads of jars. Secure two-piece lids. Place into the water bath, covered by one to two inches of water. Bring to a boil. Process for 5 minutes once boiling, remember to adjust for altitude if needed.
12. Remove from canner and wait 24 hours to check if your jelly has set and lids sealed.
Enjoy your grape jelly on toast, ice cream, in your peanut butter sandwich, or give it as a gift to someone who appreciates homemade treats. Enjoy!